The Covid-19 outbreak has revealed the inflexibility and lack of innovation in personal care systems around the world.
As such technology has the opportunity to fix what has been seen as an outdated compensation system for care following life-changing accidents which no longer meets public expectations for assistive technologies.
A new report, The Future of Care: is Technology the Answer?, published by law firm Kennedys, interviewed health and insurance professionals in UK, US and Australia as well as polling over 1,000 people in each country. The report explores some of the systemic barriers to adoption of healthtech solutions and recommends future best practice for more personalised and modern care delivery.
Several experts have highlighted that technology can be better integrated into traditional care packages, in order to increase patient choice and independence.
Jo Douglas, independent care expert, said “The area where there is scope for more technology is for people who need less than 24 hour support, where technology could replace some personal care. Remote monitoring can allow people to live in their own homes but operate independently up to a point.” Increased use of healthtech is supported by the public with 39% of people surveyed stating that technology is underutilised in how they access healthcare treatments.
The report added several obstacles will need to be overcome in promoting the expansion of mixed care models, where personal care and technology are rotated according to preferences and needs. Some experts highlighted the tactical role of claimant advisers in advocating personal care as a means of maximising the value of their client’s damages claim. The application of assistive technologies may be overlooked in the claims setting precisely because they may help to reduce the cost of care and lead to a lower overall compensation award.
One reason for the under-adoption of assistive technology is the clinical knowledge gap, because many health professionals are not familiar with the fast-developing range of products or how to support their patients (including vulnerable groups) to use them effectively in their own homes. The report highlights a growing demand from patients for healthtech advice including online appointments, smartphone health apps, and automated home devices for care tasks such as environmental control, dispensing medication or fall alarms.
Over half of the survey respondents believe that technology can empower people living with catastrophic injuries, giving them a greater sense of independence, and over one-third recognised the cost-efficiencies which might follow.
Mark Burton, Head of Catastrophic Injury at Kennedys, said: “Many personal care services can now be replaced or improved via assistive technology. Whilst consumers are supportive of technology-based solutions in healthcare, the medico-legal market is outdated and offers insufficient integration of personal care and assistive technology solutions. The clinical knowledge gap around the role of technology in allowing increased independence for some patients needs to be closed via education and proactive engagement by all parties.
“The status quo has partly arisen because, tactically, the personal care model generates the highest compensation awards. As such, there is little, if any, claimant impetus for reform. It can, however, place an unfair burden on the state or compensators, and is prohibitively expensive for any users outside of a 100% compensation scenario.
“The Covid-19 pandemic is forcing emergency re-appraisal of the traditional care supply chain for reasons of infection control and business continuity. We have carried out extensive consumer surveys and stakeholder interviews, in order to reality-test demand for increased adoption of healthtech solutions. The results were revealing, in that public attitudes are supportive of reform, but that there are various practical impediments embedded in our existing claims and healthcare infrastructure.”